Workers process shrimp for export (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - If the shrimp industry does not change it will be unable to export and will also need to be rescued like its pork, dragon fruit and watermelon counterparts, heard a recent seminar on establishing a disease-free shrimp production chain for export in Ho Chi Minh City.

Pham Van Dong, head of the Department of Animal Health, said earnings from shrimp exports have increased significantly in recent years, but the industry faces many challenges in breeding due to the impact of climate changes and diseases.

Companies have also faced difficulties in exports due to the increasingly strict technical barriers related to diseases and antibiotic residues put up by importing countries, he said.

Recently six markets -- Australia, the Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil, and Mexico -- have said they would buy only products with disease-free certification in accordance with World Organisation for Animal Health regulations or recognised as free of diseases by their authorised agencies.

These markets account for 25 percent of the country’s total shrimp exports, or equivalent to 800 million USD a year.

[Australia agrees to re-import processed shrimps from Vietnam]

Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said shrimp processors and exporters are deeply worried about the disease-free certification requirement.

It is hard for them to meet the demand in a short time, he said.  

With the small average scale of production, if the country does not have comprehensive national measures, exporters would face difficulties in exporting in future.

Dang Quoc Tuan, deputy general director of Vietnam-Australia Seafood Corporation (Viet-Uc Seafood), said the survival rate of shrimp in Vietnam is very low at just 25-30 percent due to the low professional level of farmers. Vietnamese shrimp mainly competes on price, and the new regulations mean they cannot be exported whatever their price, he said.

The industry would therefore be forced to change, he said. 

Nguyen Van Long, head of the department’s seafood veterinary division, said the department has a programme to enable firms to meet regulations set by importing countries since 2014, but enterprises remain unmindful of this.

Only Viet-Uc Seafood and Huy Long An Company have participated in the programme to develop disease-free shrimp breeding facilities.

Viet-Uc Seafood has basically met the criteria to be recognised by animal health department.

Farmers and businesses in the country are generally not aware of the importance of building disease-free shrimp breeding facilities.

But if the industry persists with its current production methods, it would need to be rescued sooner rather than later.-VNA